The Treason Show: Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Treason Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2002 at">The Treason Show might be topical, but their sense of humour is rooted in the dim and distant past. Its lively cast of four are demonstrably great entertainers, but they labour under a script that’s more in the twee style of mannered drawing-room revue than biting satire.

Jokes about the news are tricky these days, and despite boasting 18 writers, Treason Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2002 at">The Treason Show isn’t as funny as a well-chosen Twitter timeline. Regular but talented folk make better jokes than these in real time on the internet, which leaves a live show struggling to catch up. Their response is to ignore the social media, and write like its 1965, when the audience still had some cap-doffing respect for the political class.

Thus statesmanlike music heralds the arrival of the Prime Minister, portrayed as a Terry-Thomas-style lounge lizard. The best joke of the monologue is about Eric Pickles being fat, but there’s no mention of ‘swivel-eyed loons’, cos that only broke four days ago.

It’s quickly followed by a Rolf Harris sketch, which demonstrates the team’s lack of an angle. If you think he’s guilty, surely a lame Two Little Boys parody is pitifully inadequate a gag to do about the misery he inflicted. If you think he’s the innocent victim of a witch-hunt, then say so. Instead child abuse is mined for dainty wordplay. Yet they jauntily sing a line about ‘tie me Abo boy down, sport’ without a care for how nasty that sounds. It’s out of character for a show that’s usually light and silly.

Such song parodies are an easily-written staple, and the team belt them out with gusto, and you can never fault their performance. Daniel Beale’s impersonation of Patrick Moore is spot-on in being exaggeratedly stupid, though comes a bit of a cropper when they try to force it into a traditional sketch, and even Nigel Farage as a cliched drunk has its moments. Founder member Carol Kentish stands out as an astute comic actor with range from the grotesque to the natural – and a cracking Kirsty Walk impression; while Carole Kentish is a useful to have on the team when it comes to belting out the songs.

They carry their Brighton roots proudly, and some of the better gags are born from making local references the Twitter army doesn’t compete on. Even so, Treason Show mastermind Mark Brailsford’s full song based on Friday I’m In Hove stretches a simple pun too far.

The execution is great, but they need more edge and attitude if they are to have a relevance that satirists should crave. Never mind The Daily Show; this is written weakly.

Review date: 22 May 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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